Problems over tyres in Cemex’s Fairborn kiln

Problems over tyres in Cemex’s Fairborn kiln
Published: 24 July 2006

Two US environmental organizations recently launched a campaign to urge cement producer Cemex Inc. to trash its plan to use scrap tires as supplemental fuel, a process the groups say would be harmful to residents and the environment.

Although state and local government officials approve of tire-derived fuel (TDF), the Greene Environmental Coalition and the recently formed Parents Against Tire Burning said they do not want it in their community because they say fumes from tyres are toxic. Cemex has been polluting the environment for years and allowing the company to burn tires in its cement kiln will only add to the problem, the groups said.

The groups recently placed yellow signs that read "No Tyre Burn Protect Our Health" along Dayton-Yellow Springs Road in Fairborn and along Dayton Street in Yellow Springs. Group members said they’d prefer that companies recycle tyres and use them to build roads, athletic fields and other products that are environmentally friendly.

Proponents of TDF said burning tires for supplemental fuel is the oldest and most popular method of getting rid of scrap tyres, which can harm the environment if left in landfills or junk yards. TDF also has gained popularity as the cost of energy has skyrocketed, officials said. Cemex, which uses coal in its kiln, has said burning tyres would reduce the use of fossil fuel at its plant by 20 per cent, which would save about US$1m annually.

Dan Zielinski, a spokesman for the Rubber Manufacturers Association, said the industry does not track how much money scrap tyres generate annually. Of the 300 million tyres that are scrapped in the United States per year, nearly half are used for TDF, said Michael Blumenthal, a senior technical director for the association.

"If it weren’t for the tyre-derived fuel, this country would indeed have a scrap tyre crisis," he said. "Tyre-derived fuel is not the only market (for scrap tyres) out there, but it is the biggest market. It is an important market."

US scrap tyre disposition in 2003 was noted at:
Tyre-derived fuel: 44.7 per cent
Civil engineering: 19.4 per cent
Unknown: 10.3 per cent
Ground rubber: 9.7 per cent
Landfill: 9.3 per cent
Export: 3.1 per cent
Cut/punched/stamped: 2 per cent
Miscellaneous/agriculture: 1.7 per cent
Electric arc furnaces: 0.2 per cent